A Forsyth County judge denied Wednesday a request to end the probation for Mickey Dale Snow, the Eden businessman who was once the center of an alleged teen prostitution case that collapsed under the weight of numerous errors made by the former Rockingham County district attorney.
Snow, 80, is serving three years of supervised probation that was transferred from Rockingham to Forsyth. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting a prostitute who is a minor. His supervised probation ends in July 2021, but his attorneys asked a judge to terminate the probation because Snow has prostate cancer and has continued to suffer from side effects from COVID-19, which he contracted in May, according to a motion filed in Forsyth Superior Court.
After a hearing Wednesday, Judge Todd Burke of Forsyth Superior Court did not go as far as Snow's attorneys wanted him to go but did modify the probation so that it is now unsupervised. That means Snow won't have to check in with his probation officer anymore but he will still have to comply with the conditions of his probation.
Rockingham County District Attorney Jason Ramey opposed the move. A social worker with the Rockingham County Department of Social Services, who has worked with the victim in the case, said the victim strongly opposed Snow getting released from probation.
The case against Snow started in November 2015, when authorities arrested the businessman in Thailand, where his attorney, Michael Grace, said he had a home. Snow initially faced a multitude of charges along with four other people. Prosecutors characterized the case as a sex ring involving underage, mentally disabled girls who were being sold by their mother for $5 to $20 at a time, according to the News & Record of Greensboro.
But by the time Snow entered a guilty plea in July 2018, the case had shown significant cracks. Craig Blitzer, then the Rockingham County district attorney, had resigned in connection to his involvement in an unrelated pay-scheme scandal. The criminal cases he had handled came under scrutiny.
A re-evaluation of all of his cases led to either reduced or dropped charges, including in the alleged sex ring. At a sentencing hearing in July 2018, prosecutor Michelle Alcon said there was never any evidence that the defendants were co-conspirators. She also said that it remained unclear whether the victim in Snow's case was 15 or 16 at the time of the alleged offense. Blitzer, according to Alcon, pursued the charges related to having sex with a minor without any evidence. The age of consent in North Carolina is 16.
And Blitzer labeled the victims in the case as mentally disabled, an element for some of the charges, despite being told by Department of Social Services, detectives, and the mother that the daughters had no such disability, according to a report from the News & Record. Blitzer had gotten tests as early as 2015 that confirmed the victim's competency. Alcon said, according to the News & Record, that the victims never had vaginal intercourse with Snow or the other defendants.
Tom Keith, former Forsyth County district attorney, took over as an interim lead prosecutor in Rockingham in the wake of Blitzer's resignation. He and other assistant prosecutors re-investigated the case and found other errors that Blitzer made, according to the News & Record.
In court Wednesday, Grace said Snow has complied with both pre-trial release and his probation. According to the motion, Snow has been treated for his prostate cancer by a doctor in Daytona Beach, Fla. Snow has traveled to Florida for treatment. Grace argued that ending his probation will allow Snow to permanently live in Florida and be near his doctors in case of emergency.
Burke said that in his experience, supervised probation can be modified early if the criminal defendant has complied with conditions.
Ramey said it was rare for an attorney to file a motion seeking to end probation. Most of the time, he said, probation officers would recommend any probation modifications.
Elliott Caldwell, an attorney for the Rockingham County Department of Social Services, said the victim in the case has gotten continuous therapy and that part of Snow's sentence required him to have no contact with the victim during his supervised probation. He said the victim wants that no-contact provision to remain in place.
Carye Dickerson, a social worker with the Rockingham County Department of Social Services, said the victim doesn't want Snow's supervised probation terminated.